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by Tim Regan — August 11, 2015 at 2:30 pm 457 0

7-Eleven on 14th Street NW

A controversial petition launched to protest the opening of a 14th Street NW 7-Eleven store was successful, says its creator.

The Change.org petition originally called for residents to rise up against a new 7-Eleven convenience store coming to the ground floor of the Solea condo building at 2300 14th Street NW.

Ezra Weinblatt, who lives in the condo and originally filed the petition, told Borderstan in July he was “not impressed by the processed and sugary foods that they sell,” and hoped “to get enough support behind the opposition to … demonstrate that the neighborhood would rather have a more local bodega, clothier or anything else.”

Though 300 people went on to sign Weinblatt’s petition, not all of the feedback it garnered was positive. CityLab’s Kriston Capps wrote in July that the petition smacked of “crypto-classism.”

And yesterday, PoPville declared that the petition had failed because it couldn’t prevent the embattled 7-Eleven from posting its permits on the window and moving forward with renovations.

While Weinblatt acknowledges that the petition failed to stop the new 7-Eleven, he says his petition was ultimately a success.

“It wasn’t a failure,” says Weinblatt. “We wanted to raise awareness that the community objected to another insipid corporate fast food type establishment.”

“Given that there are only 50 units in the building and over 300 people from every race and class in the neighborhood signed the petition, the effort was successful,” he says.

One thing Weinblatt says he didn’t anticipate is that his original petition would be so controversial.

“I had no idea I would have so many detractors,” Weinblatt says. “I thought this was a slam dunk. The petition was accused of being classist. It couldn’t be anything further from the truth.”

“There’s such an epidemic with obesity. It’s sad,” Weinblatt adds. “I don’t know exactly how people who think they’re defending the underdog when they’re supporting food and lifestyle choices that are actually oppressive to them.”

Now that the 7-Eleven has moved closer to opening, will Weinblatt boycott it?

“I’m not going to support it for the first 6 months,” Weinblatt says. “But I wouldn’t rule it out [later]. It’s not going to stay open because I buy a bottle of water once every six months.”

by Jared Holt — July 17, 2015 at 3:30 pm 227 0

Sauf Haus

A German beer hall near Dupont Circle will celebrate its one-year anniversary next weekend with giveaways, live music and cheap brews.

Sauf Haus Beir Hall (1216 18th St NW) will open its doors at 12 p.m. next Saturday to celebrate the occasion.

Five bands will perform and bartenders will pour Schofferhofer Grapefruit Radler and Radeberger Pilsner for $1 until the taps run dry. Customers will also be able to enter to win prizes.

The owners of Sauf Haus are donating a percentage of the day’s proceeds to The Yellow Ribbon Fund, which assists injured military service members.

Image via Facebook.com/SaufHausDC

by Jared Holt — July 16, 2015 at 10:00 am 399 0

NY Bagel Cafe

Construction will start soon for a new bagel shop on U Street.

New York Bagel Cafe & Deli announced via Twitter that it is going to build its first D.C. location on U Street NW.

The shop will serve bagels, coffee drinks, sandwiches,  soups and salads.

Photo via NY Bagel Cafe & Deli’s Facebook Page

by Tim Regan — July 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm 2,027 19 Comments

14th Street and Florida Avenue NW

(Updated at 1:49 p.m. Friday with correct photo) A group of residents has launched a petition to block the possible addition of a new 7-Eleven store at 2300 14th Street NW.

“We are happily satisfied with the neighborhood retail services today such as: Streets, Smucker Farms, Yes Organic, CVS and Trader Joe’s, yet we are very concerned about [7-Eleven] entering our neighborhood,” reads the Change.org petition.

“We believe that [7-Eleven] will diminish and detract from our neighborhood, nor do we see it adding any value to our lives,” it continues.

Ezra Weinblatt, who filed the petition last night, says he and other residents at the nearby Solea condo building caught wind of the possible 7-Eleven coming to 2300 14th Street NW earlier this week.

Jim Dennin, the real estate broker for the property at 2300 14th Street NW, said he “could neither confirm nor deny” a 7-Eleven was coming to the property.

“We’re hoping to get enough support behind the opposition to compel them and demonstrate that the neighborhood would rather have a more local bodega, clothier or anything else,” Weinblatt says.

Among Weinblatt’s main concerns are the type of products sold at 7-Eleven.

“We not impressed by the processed and sugary foods that they sell,” adds Weinblatt. “The community is already served. It doesn’t fill a niche. We’re all concerned about the image that it brings.”

But doesn’t CVS sell the same kind of sugary foods?

“Well, CVS is already here,” says Weinblatt. “Everything that 7-Eleven sells is already being sold by every other business here.”

Though he didn’t include it in his petition, Weinblatt says he’s also concerned about people congregating in front of the possible store late at night.

“People hanging out at four in the morning on a street corner are not looking to pick up trash. They’re looking for trouble. We don’t want trouble.”

Weinblatt’s next step is to take the petition to his local commissioners at ANC 1B.

“We’re totally happy to see the landlord make money,” says Weinblatt. “We just want to see the community’s interests taken into that as well.”

Photo via Google Street View

by Daniel Levitt — July 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm 423 0

West End Cinema Landmark Theaters

Landmark Theatres will reopen West End Cinema (2301 M St NW) later this month, according to a sign recently posted on the theater’s window.

New employees are currently being hired to prepare for a soft opening on July 17, an employee working at the former West End Cinema location said today.

A Craigslist ad seeking part-time staffers was posted last week.

West End Cinema closed last March amid “significant increases” to occupancy costs, reported the Washington Post.

Landmark Theatres is a national theater chain that owns the E Street Cinema downtown and the Bethesda Row Cinema in Bethesda.

In addition to West End, the theater chain also plans to open a new theater in the Atlantic Plumbing Project development on V Street NW on October 9, as reported by the Washington Business Journal in November.

by Jared Holt — July 6, 2015 at 4:00 pm 501 1 Comment

Joel Pollack Big Planet Comics

Big Planet Comics founder Joel Pollack loves to be compared to Jeff Albertson, the comic book guy from the Simpsons.

“Oh, you mean my idol,” he says with a laugh.

But in many ways, Pollack, who opened the first Big Planet Comics location in Bethesda 29 years ago, has surpassed his role model.

Since founding the company’s first shop, the 65-year-old comic seller has grown the company to include its own in-house publishing company and four locations — one of which resides in the upstairs space at 1520 U Street NW.

That store, along with its sister locations in Bethesda, Vienna and College Park, celebrated the company’s 29th birthday last weekend with a big sale.

Over the years, Pollack says his clientele has changed.

Though comic collecting was once thought of as the chosen hobby of basement dwellers, its appeal has grown to include businesspeople, educators and families.

“I’ve had many parents come in and thank me for getting their kids interested in reading again,” says Pollack.

When will Pollack stop selling comics? That’s debatable. But he adds the shop is doing so well that it might just outlive him.

“I still have people shopping with me from day one,” says Pollack. “I wish I was as healthy as the business.”

Image via Big Planet Comics’ Facebook Page

by Tim Regan — July 2, 2015 at 3:35 pm 2,228 0

Guggenmos at ANC 2F

Number Nine and Town Danceboutique co-owner John Guggenmos seeks to open a “comfortable” new tavern on 14th Street NW.

Guggenmos said last night during a monthly ANC 2F meeting that the new business would be located at 1410 14th Street NW in the space under Black Whiskey.

That storefront is currently occupied by Jrink juicery, which will move to Shaw in August.

If all goes according to plan, the new tavern — still unnamed — will have a small dance floor, live DJs and feature architectural design elements made from salvaged materials.

“One of the things we’ll be looking to do here is use materials that give them all a second life,” said Guggenmos during his presentation to ANC 2F’s commissioners.

For instance, Guggenmos said he would like to build an outdoor seating area’s fence out of wood found in the wreckage of a barn destroyed by a tornado.

“You take down this wonderful old barn wood and give it a second life,” he said. “These big, thick old planks; you couldn’t buy something new that has that character.”

Guggenmos hopes the salvaged materials will lend the tavern a comfortable feel.

“I was criticized with Number Nine for making it too nice,” said Guggenmos. “People didn’t feel like they could put their feet up.”

by Tim Regan — July 2, 2015 at 1:55 pm 224 0

“FIREWORKS TNT FIREWORKS,” reads the sign above Mi Casita Bakery, a Mexican and Salvadoran cafe on 14th Street NW in Columbia Heights.

Inside, the eatery is busy and hot.

“No, we don’t sell fireworks here,” sighs the man behind the counter. “We do not sell fireworks.”

The man sighs again, as if to say he gets that question a lot.

“But Mattie does,” the man says, pointing to the wall behind him. “She’s out back.”

Mattie McLain’s head barely emerges from behind the counter of her plywood fireworks stand. On first glance, the hut looks uninhabited.

Although hidden, McLain is there. Sun or storm, the 78-year-old has manned the firework shack each summer for more than 20 years.

Every afternoon, a small crowd of children gathers in front of the stand. With a smile, McLain doles out pop-its, sparklers and party poppers for a dollar apiece.

Earlier this week, the stand was discovered — and subsequently written about — by PoPville.

“Seems legit,” wrote one commenter sarcastically.

“The [person] who runs the fireworks stand has had [their] stand on that corner for 30+ years,” writes another. “The nice folks at [Mi] Casita don’t have to let [them] continue the tradition, but they do.”

But McLain doesn’t just own the fireworks stand. She also owns the building that houses Mi Casita.

“I’ve owned the building 40 years,” she says.

McLain used to run a grocery store and deli out of the space, but she closed the deli 10 years ago.

“I just got too old,” McLain says. “Now, I sell fireworks. It keeps me busy.”

Over the years, McLain has gotten to know her neighbors well.

“The neighborhood has changed a lot,” says McLain. “But a lot of the same people are still here. I know them.”

“Each year around this time, they look for me,” McLain says with a laugh. “Everybody says, ‘Where’s Mattie?'”

McLain often says she doesn’t know how much longer she’ll sell fireworks. But she’ll run the stand as long as she can.

“I’m old,” McLain says. “Too old. I fell this morning.”

“But I can get up,” she adds.

by Tim Regan — July 1, 2015 at 4:05 pm 1 Comment

Gallery Neptune and Brown

A new art gallery will open in the space formerly occupied by Gallery Plan B on July 18.

Two Georgetown galleries, Neptune Fine Art and Robert Brown Gallery announced today the opening of a joint “satellite space” called Gallery Neptune and Brown.

The new gallery will be located in the old Gallery Plan B space, across the street from the Studio Theatre at 1530 14th Street NW.

Former Gallery Plan B Director David Kalamar will be hired on to help manage the new location, confirmed Robert Brown of Robert Brown Gallery.

Nepture Fine Art owner Christine Neptune and Robert Brown will co-own the space.

Gallery Plan B owner Paula Amt announced the closure of her beloved 14th Street art space last Monday.

“We decided after the 10 year anniversary that it was time,” Amt told Borderstan. “Go out on a high note with good memories and accomplishments.”

Amt will not return to help with the new gallery.

The gallery’s first exhibit, “Summer Splash on 14th Street,” will run from July 18 until September 5 and feature artists Polly Apfelbaum, Donald Baechler, Ellsworth Kelly and Philip Taaffe.

Neptune Fine Art was founded in New York City in 2000, an focuses mainly on modern and contemporary art.

Robert Brown Gallery first opened in Georgetown in 1981. Over the years, Brown has exhibited artists such as Roger Ballen, Oleg Kudryashov, Sol Lewitt and David Nash.

Photo courtesy Gallery Neptune and Brown

by Tim Regan — July 1, 2015 at 10:10 am 1,214 1 Comment

Books-A-Million, Photo via https://www.facebook.com/pages/Books-A-Millon/

Books-A-Million near Dupont Circle will close on July 18, said assistant store manager Karen Sickles.

Sickles confirmed by phone this morning that the store lost its lease, but couldn’t say anything more about the situation.

“We’ve been here a long time,” Sickles says. “We’re sad to go.”

Sickles added the store, located at 11 Dupont Circle NW, is selling all of its remaining inventory at a 20 to 50 percent discount.

“This is our bye-to-D.C. sale,” she says.

Photo via Facebook/pages/Books-A-Millon

by Tim Regan — June 25, 2015 at 1:45 pm 178 0

Ben’s Chili Bowl is expanding again.

Borderstan’s sister site, Hill Now, reported earlier today that the landmark U Street eatery famous for its chili and half smokes will open a new location on H Street NE in just two weeks.

The store, located at 1001 H St. NE, is slated to open July 8 with a ribbon cutting ceremony and some “special guests,” said Vida Ali, whose family owns the Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurants across D.C.

Local politicians and comedian Bill Cosby have previously attended Ben’s Chili Bowl openings in the past.

Founded in 1958 by Ben and Virginia Ali, Ben’s Chili Bowl locations can be found on U Street NW and in Arlington, as well as at Reagan National Airport, Nationals Park and FedExField.

Photo of Ben’s Chili Bowl interior via Ben’s Chili Bowl

by Jared Holt — June 25, 2015 at 12:00 pm 246 2 Comments

Riccardi Clothier

The Dupont neighborhood will soon lose another local business.

Riccardi Clothier owner Alex Brown says his store, located at 1300 Connecticut Avenue NW, will move to its original location in Georgetown in just three days. Why? Because the rent is just too high, says Brown.

Brown has sold of Italian suits and fashion consultation from his storefront since it moved there from Georgetown five year ago.

He admits business on Connecticut has been lackluster for a while.

But Brown also says he’s glad his menswear store is moving, primarily because his going-out-of-business sale has helped him sell more suits than he’s sold in months.

And there’s another silver lining: At least the store won’t have to worry about  wayward chicken odors from when The Chickery opens next door.

by Jared Holt — June 24, 2015 at 12:15 pm 0

Super Art Fight

What’s equal parts live art, wacky costumed characters, glow-sticks and nostalgia? Super Art Fight, that’s what.

Ten artists will face off in a test of speed, creativity and scribbling during the show on the Black Cat main stage Saturday night at 9:30 p.m.

“Super Art Fight is Pictionary meets pro wrestling,” says Ross Nover, who co-hosts the show he calls the “greatest live art competition in the known universe.”

“But unlike pro-wrestling, none of the show is pre-planned,” says Nover. “It’s less about how great the art work comes out, and more about how funny and great the moment was when it was created.”

During the bout, artists are encouraged to undermine each other’s illustrations by adding their own mischievous input to their opponent’s work. At the end, audience applause determines the winner.

Nover says the audience vote encourages artists to create eccentric personas and outfits for audience love.

Attendees should expect the show’s usual wacky decorations and costumes to be kicked up a notch for Saturday’s 80’s-themed show. Michael Bracco, known as Baron Von Sexyful on stage, created two decorations that Nover describes as “the worlds craziest mash-up T-shirt” of cartoon characters and pop culture icons.

The show will also include Synful Pleasure, an ’80s cover band, and live DJing from the The Megadrives.

Tickets are available online for $15 and a $3.90 service fee. The show is for all ages.

Photo via Super Art Fight’s Facebook

by Tim Regan — June 23, 2015 at 3:45 pm 369 0

Florida Liquors

Florida Liquors is not dead.

The old-school 14th Street store, located at the intersection of Florida Avenue and 14th Street NW, is doing fine and well despite a PoPville story that said it might have closed last week.

Store owner Joe Tadesse says the store was closed all of last week, but only to gut and renovate the space.

“Everything is different and better,” Tadesse says.

The store officially reopened yesterday with new wooden shelves, an upgraded cooler and a more spacious interior.

Tadesse first read the online news of his store’s possible demise this afternoon.

“I was confused,” says Tadesse.

“People kept calling and asking if we were closed,” he adds. “Now I understand why.”

Several PoPville readers wrote in to correct the Prince of Petworth just hours after the original story was posted.

“I mean this sincerely not being a jerk,” replied the Prince. “He should [have posted] a ‘closed for renovations’ note on the door instead of closed with a sad face sign.”

To that, Tadesse can only laugh.

“Maybe I should have,” he says with a smile while ringing up a small line of customers.

by Tim Regan — June 22, 2015 at 12:45 pm 352 0

Plan B Gallery, photo via Plan B Gallery

Local artists now have one less place in which to hang their work.

Gallery Plan B owner Paula Amt and director David Kalamar announced in a Facebook post yesterday that the gallery located across the street from the Studio Theatre is closed for good.

Amt confirmed the closure earlier today via e-mail.

“We are closing, not moving,” said Amt. “Our last exhibition finished yesterday and we will be out of the space by the end of the month.”

“We decided after the 10 year anniversary that it was time,” added Amt. “Go out on a high note with good memories and accomplishments.”

The business, which opened a decade ago on the first floor of 1530 14th Street NW, had been a popular exhibition space for local photographers, painters and sculptors.

Amt said a new art-themed business would open in the space later this summer, but would not offer any additional details.

Photo via GalleryPlanB.com


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